Reel Rock featured in
Boulder resident looks to compete in climbing at 2020 Olympic Games
John Brosler featured in ‘Up to Speed,’ which is showing tonight as part of Reel Rock 13
If you go
What: “Up to Speed,” showing with other climbing films as part of Reel Rock 13
When: 9 p.m. Friday
Where: Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St.
More info: reelrocktour.com
John Brosler estimated it would take him just under 4 seconds to scale a 10-meter-high wall inside the EVO Rock + Fitness climbing gym in Louisville where he practices speed climbing.
Scale might not be the right word. Brosler bounded up the wall like gravity stopped for 4 seconds on Thursday afternoon.
The 21-year-old climber and Boulder resident is taking time off from the University of Colorado to spend up to 4 hours a day climbing up and down the same stretch of wall inside the gym, five days a week.
It’s important he train and compete as much as possible. Brosler is a member of USA Climbing and has won nine national titles and competed on the world stage. He wants to make it to the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
Brosler came to the decision quickly.
“Basically as soon as it was announced climbing was in the Olympics,” he said. “It’s kind of a bummer being one of the best athletes in the world in a sport that’s not at the Olympic level or doesn’t have that kind of recognition.”
In 2016, the International Olympic Committee added climbing to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Karate, skateboarding, surfing, baseball and softball also were added in an effort to appeal to a younger audience, according to Climbing Magazine. Baseball and softball are making a return to the Olympics after being cut in 2008.
Brosler grew up in Dallas. If you’ve never been, Dallas isn’t really mountain country, but Brosler said climbing is nonetheless quite popular and he took it up as a child.
“The climbing gym scene is pretty huge,” he said. “There are a lot of climbers, so they build those things.”
Brosler said he found his way to Colorado, because it seemed “like the natural place to go” for a climber. He takes to the mountains for climbing but recently, indoor climbing is taking up most of his time.
Speed climbing, he said, involves a standard 15-meter-high course so people can train and compete worldwide. The roof at Evo isn’t that high, so the course is split into two 10-meter-high practice runs. In competition, two climbers race at a time.
The sport will be one of three that an Olympian has to master to win a gold medal, the other two being sport climbing and bouldering. The mix of three sports isn’t sitting well with everyone in the climbing world, Brosler said, because it takes a great deal of training and discipline to master just one.
“So many of the world-class athletes specialize, and that’s why they are world class,” he said. “They focus all their time and energy into one discipline.”
Having to master three types of climbing might not sink Brosler, according to Zachary Barr, co-director of speed climbing documentary “Up to Speed,” in which Brosler appears.
“He is one of the few Americans who are even close to being competitive,” Barr said. “Most everyone who is really good at it is from Russia, Indonesia, Iran and Belarus.”
Barr, himself a lifelong climber, said speed climbing is diametrically opposed to sport climbing, which might explain some of the pushback regarding its inclusion in the Olympic Games.
“(Sport climbing) is not really about competition and athletic in the same way like running a race is,” he said. “There’s more going on. Speed climbing is very cut and dried. It’s a race up a wall, a vertical race up a wall.”